A – Annnd…Action!

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Annd…Action!

Hawk MacHardcastle stood on the creaking wooden pier which stretched out into the toilet bowl-freshener blue waters of Lake Latrine. His biceps bulged and glistened in the golden July sun. His mane of fiery red hair flowed and rippled on the summer breeze. His burly beard bristled like a proud sea urchin. His massive hands were clenched into fists as he focused his steel-gray gaze on the creature before him.

Hovering in mid-air, having just launched itself from the depths of the lake, a hammerhead shark levitated before him. Its razor-sharp teeth gnashed in burgeoning rage as its fins flapped out a death march. The shark swished its mighty tail and beckoned Hawk to his doom. But Hawk was not doomed—for his punch was mightier than the strike of Thor’s hammer, and he smashed down the uppity shark with one blow. It fell back into the lake with a massive splash, creating a wave like a tsunami on a Japanese beach. An agonized roar followed it to its watery grave.

Hawk drew heaving breaths, his gigantic chest expanding and deflating like a well-oiled bagpipe.

“I came here to find peace,” he rumbled out, and turned his face away. A single tear rolled town his manly cheek. “But peace will never find me.”


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

Writers are often told to start their story with ‘action.’ This is to draw the reader in, set the tone of the story, and make someone want to read more (including whatever agent/editor you submitted it to). However, overdoing it to start things off with a kick can have the opposite effect of creating interest—making your story seem really absurd instead.

Rather than having your main character punch a levitating shark, start the story in a place where something important to your protagonist is at stake—or has just been lost. In other words, create ‘action’ that will become the reason for pushing the story forward and trying to resolve the situation your protagonist finds themselves in. Give the reader tension and conflict. This doesn’t have to be loud and boisterous, or even particularly ‘action-y,’ as long as the opening resonates emotionally. Making the reader ask “how will this get fixed?” as a hook is much better than a literal right hook.

90 thoughts on “A – Annnd…Action!

  1. I’ve been reading since day one (A), but here it is day seven (G), and I’m just writing to comment now.
    You are talented! You have a gift! My wife hasn’t read romance novels for years (long before I met her).
    She doesn’t blog, she doesn’t tweet — she seldom facebooks (her words); but when I started reading “The Worst Romance Novel,” she got curious.
    So, I read it to her, off my cell phone.
    “Oh, that’s bad!” She laughed. “Is there any more?”
    Pandora’s Tacklebox is now our quiet entertainment at dinner. (It may not sound like much, but it is a big compliment.).
    If you publish, please, reserve two copies, we will stop in for your book signing.
    I hope that my attempts can at least find the bar that you have set skyward.

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit 🍀🐰
    @leprchaunrabbit
    yourrootsareshowingdearie.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. Oh, this made me laugh so much and also touched my heart! Thank you so much! 😀 I’m glad the two of you are enjoying it so much and getting so much entertainment out of it. I don’t have any plans to publish, but maybe I should put it in an ebook format and give it away from free? Hmmmm…

      Thank you SO much! I hope to entertain you all the way to Z!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love you haha, this is the most genious idea ever, reading all of them now!

    About starting to action, I confess it is something I enjoy but casual action, nothing crazy. //fellow challenger

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it! 😀

      Like

  3. OMG That was hilarious! I for real LOL’ed.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    Like

  4. OMFG ! Why didnt I stumble upon your blog before !! Thank God I did today.. I mean what brilliance..just ..sheer brilliance ! I was knocked off my chair when two suspecting colleagues at work rolled their eyes at me.
    Take a bow Megan, I am a fan now. This is undoubtedly the funniest , yet profound piece of writing I have read in recent times ! Will be following you for more “Action” !!

    Would be obliged if you can pay me a visit and let me know your thoughts, would mean a lot !

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…
    A to Z Challenge 2016
    A*Alone
    B*Butterfly
    C*Curry

    Like

    1. LOL I’m glad you’re finding it so entertaining! Thanks so much for the praise! And I will definitely stop by. Thanks for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dropping by as part of the AtoZChallenge. Looking forward to reading more. I like the sound of Hawk, beard and all. Blessings Joy

    Like

    1. Yes, he’s quite the manly man, isn’t he? Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I almost started crying from the blurb’s first sentence alone. You know the laughing-tears emoji? My face right then. Truly brilliant. Looking forward to this series of posts.

    Like

    1. Hahaha I can imagine it! I’m glad you found it entertaining! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  7. Oh dear, shark-infested waters at Lake Latrine? This place is worse than I thought! 😉

    Like

    1. Hahaha and it shall get worse, trust me! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  8. Levitating sharks! Awesome! 🙂 I’ve struggled before with putting too much action at the beginning, but not quite it that way! haha!

    Like

    1. Hahaha that’s good to hear! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  9. Megan,
    Hilarious and a great idea for the A-Z challenge. Looking forward to more of this landmark work!

    Like

    1. Thank you! I fear it might be ‘landmark’ for all the wrong reasons, though. 😉

      Like

  10. Nilanjana Bose April 2, 2016 — 8:35 AM

    You had me at the toilet bowl blue waters! 😀 Eww-factored descriptions. Lake Latrine is a hook too. How not to do things indeed! Such a fun and ingenious way to show not tell! Kudos.

    Best
    Nilanjana.
    Madly-in-Verse

    Like

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Lots of people seem to be getting a kick out of the water description.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  11. Sea urchin beard! Toilet bowl blue water!
    I loved it. I felt like I was watching a romantic parody because your imagery is excellent. I am so excited for more. His manly cheek tear gave me a chuckle too. You are right. The overkill turns the piece into comedy, not a connection.
    http://ffmamas.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. I’m glad you enjoy the beautiful descriptions of our manly hero. 😀 Thanks for the kind words and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. randommusings29 April 1, 2016 — 7:37 PM

    This is really good advice – I often find myself more drawn into a novel when it starts with something that connects me emotionally to the character(s) rather than a crazy action scene with little to no context, although your story really did make me smile 🙂
    Debbie

    Like

    1. I feel the same way! Give me a reason to CARE about the characters right off the bat. I’m glad you found it entertaining, though. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  13. Thanks! I needed a good chuckle. 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what happens next to your kilt-wearing, shark punching, cowboy!

    Like

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! And don’t worry, Hawk doesn’t need to find adventure…adventure finds him!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  14. This is a brilliant idea, and I’m looking forward to seeing how badly you write this…intentionally, of course. 🙂

    Andrea Lundgren
    Into the Writerlea Blog

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy it!

      Like

  15. I knew this was going to be good as soon as I heard your theme. Loved it. Looks like the toilet bowl freshener blue really caught people’s imagination. Looking forward to tomorrow. 😀

    Like

    1. Hahaha yes, that seems to have caught people’s attention. Glad you’re enjoying it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Brilliant! I was totally drawn in by your enticing comment …come check out the worst romance ever written in 26 days…. it’s a train wreck but you just can’t look away!!!!

    I actually found it very engaging because of your wit! look forward to reading more. 🙂 x

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I hope it continues to be funny and entertaining (and educational)!

      Like

  17. Uh oh.. I’ve got to scrap the whole idea and start completely over! Great tips. Looking forward to the rest of the month!

    Mary
    Twitter: @KnottyMarie
    Literary Gold
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    Like

    1. Oh no, sorry to dash your dreams! 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  18. Oh no. I have some rewriting to do. And here I thought the toilet bowl blue freshener was a unique image.

    Like

    1. Hee hee! Well it certainly seems to be entertaining a lot of my commenters. 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  19. I’ll tell you what’ll stay with ME for a long time: the image of Hawk riding a bucking bronco in a kilt. …Oh, there was a shark in the story?

    Like

    1. Hahahaha imagining that is…interesting. Maybe more rodeo cowboys need to ride bucking broncos in kilts, so we can decide for ourselves.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. LOL, what fun! I love the over the top descriptions. Too many writers think this is the right way to do things. *shakes head* 🙂

    Like

    1. Sadly, you’re right. Maybe this will help steer a few away from it now! Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  21. This is going to be a great series – educational and funny! I really like the idea of teaching folks how to do something by showing them how not to do it.

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-is-for-anchor-nancy-drew-investigates.html

    Like

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it! And thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  22. I think the best writers are those who can turn their writing into a bad one – that shows skill and awareness. You definitely possess those!
    I agree that action, in itself can be good or bad, it’s the stakes (+ style + character) that’ll make it worthwhile. Great post, thanks for making your point in this very entertaining way! 😉

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m really hoping to be both entertaining and educational with this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are 😉

        Like

  23. LOLOLOLOL!

    Punching a shark – way to go Hawk!

    Good advice, though ;P

    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

    Like

  24. Hey, if it worked for Shakrnado for 4 movies, there is no reason it wouldn’t work for romance, right?… XD
    I am really entertained by this theme 😀
    Happy A to Z!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

    Like

    1. Oh gosh, the Sharknado movies! Hahaha! I hope they don’t sue me for stealing their ideas. 😉

      Thanks so much!

      Like

  25. Ha! I went a different way with Action, but this was excellent. *snickers*
    Clarice
    from Clarice Creates

    Like

  26. I actually contemplated writing a similar post for A to Z this year. But I needed to make it easy as I am packing, remodeling and moving.
    Hope you enjoy the challenge and keep up the great writing.
    Im A to Zing from Moondustwriter’s Blog and Fill the Cracks

    Like

    1. Good luck! I agree that’s a lot to have to do and keep up with a blogging challenge as well. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  27. Your theme is my favorite of all the ones I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to read each post. The “toilet bowl freshener blue waters” part about killed me. Hahahahaha! And a levitating shark. ROFL! Great job, lady.

    Like

    1. I’m glad you found it funny, and I hope I can keep being funny! 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  28. Sea urchin beards must be very uncomfortable. Also, jumping the shark this early? You’re brave!

    Like

    1. Technically it’s punching it, not the same. 😉 Thanks!

      Like

  29. That toilet blue color of the lake will stay with me. Darn. But after reading that truly memorable snippet, I appreciated the lessons drawn and agree the first paragraphs are crucial to setting the story and drawing the reader into your world. Sometimes I think because of Amazon’s preview, those first sentences make or break. That snippet was horribly bad. The toilet bowl water. His biceps. Glistening. Aargh!

    Like

    1. I’m cracking up! I’m glad you found it hilarious (and educational). I definitely agree, the first few paragraphs of a story are what draw me in–or don’t. I’m not sure punching a shark would do that, unless of course, it was a book about how to punch sharks.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  30. Absolutely love the story you have set up here. I laughed out loud. Several times. Very entertaining way to illustrate your lessons.
    Discarded Darlings

    Like

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Thank you!

      Like

  31. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge – where I am part of Arlee Bird’s A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I’m excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There’s a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com

    OMG. ROFLMAO. It may be a bad way to open a novel, but it’s so bad that it went right around the bend to hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL glad you found it funny! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the challenge!

      Like

  32. Hahaha Great theme Morgan! Yeah, there are some real stinkers out there.

    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings during the #AtoZChallenge at Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

    Like

    1. Thanks! I’ll stop by and check it out.

      Like

  33. Oh, this is going to be so much fun!

    Like

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

      Like

  34. I think this is my favorite idea for an A-Z theme so far! Wow, I’m going to have a hard time getting the image of that bristling sea urchin beard out of my mind now! 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your advice!

    Amy Morris-Jones

    Like

    1. Hahaha! I’m glad you found it amusing. Far more terrifying than the shark, I assure you!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

      1. What is disturbing is how much fiction like this is now flooding the market–over the top though it may be. I’m very much for self-publishing, but I wish people would do their homework and revising before hitting the publish button.

        Like

  35. Loved it!! Looking forward to the rest of the posts!
    I’ve started the challenge today too – I’m over on http://www.amandafleet.co.uk but my opener isn’t as hilarious as that one!

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’ll stop by and check it out!

      Like

  36. You know? I’ve read (especially in workshops, but not only) stories where the hook was so obviously pushed, where the writer was so obviously trying very hard, that it really put me off.

    Your opening is actually quite good, compared to those openings, because at least there is a smooth flaw to it. I’ve read openings that give a punch in the first para and then just deflate, so that a read would wonder, “Mhm… so what was that all about again?”
    This kind of opening really annoy me, because I feel cheated.

    The levitating shark is just wonderful. How come nobody has ever thought of it before? 😉

    Like

    1. I cracked up at your comment telling me this was good. Thank you! I know what you mean, though. I have a hard time getting into stories where it’s obvious the beginning is just written to razzle-dazzle. I would rather find out who the characters are and what’s at stake.

      It will deflate I promise, as you’ll see tomorrow there’s absolutely no point in punching the shark other than to show how ‘manly’ he is. But isn’t that what we all dream of, a rich, handsome man who can punch sharks? 😀

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  37. Overdoing it is a no-no. The image of a character punching a levitating shark will remain with me for a long time!
    Writer In Transit

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    1. LOL glad I could get your morning started off right! 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  38. Oh, I like how this AtoZ is going. I have learned to read at least 50 pages before I give up on a book because it takes that long to really understand where some books are going. Action packed books don’t really get me reading unless I care about the character.

    Like

    1. I feel the same way. I don’t want non-stop action from the start, though I do want ‘something’ to be happening–and I want to get to know the characters so I can care about that something happening to them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Oh, you made me laugh – a levitating shark – LOL. Very good advice, well illustrated 🙂
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    Like

    1. Everyone needs to fight a levitating shark to start their morning! 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  40. Very good advice about starting your story.
    Wishing you all the best in the challenge. I’ll be seeing you around.
    Shalom,
    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    Like

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